Pat Cranham, BTCC Correspondent
Gilham returns with Geoff Steel Racing for final three BTCC rounds
Former Triple 8 racer Tony Gilham has today announced a swift return to the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship after missing the recent Knockhill trio of races. Gilham will race for Geoff Steel Racing (GSR) for the remainder of the season, starting with Rockingham.
Gilham started the season for Triple 8 Racing in a Vauxhall Vectra but has struggled for a budget since the opening 2011 meeting. He has tried all connections possible with the multiple champions. since the Snetterton event. Gilham has scored 12 points to date with the highlight for him, thus far, scoring in all 3 races during his debut at Brands Hatch.
Once you’ve done the BTCC you don’t want to do anything else really.
GSR also will make a welcome return to the grid after buying last season’s Airwaves BMW. They originally entered the series with reigning Clio Cup Champion Dave Newsham, but after the second meeting of the year at Donington the announcement was made that Newsham’s position had become untenable and he was departing to Special Tuning Racing.
Gilham brings with him long term main sponsor Collins Contractors who he also bought to Triple 8 as lead sponsor. He will be in his customary Green and Pink number 34 livery along with other new sponsors GEG (Garage Equipment Group), Da Vinci Alloy Wheels and Right Choice Insurance Brokers.
Gilham should be well suited to the rear wheel drive BMW after a number of years racing a Porsche in the Carrera Cup GB. GSR have announced also for Rockingham that they will enter a normally aspirated engine before switching to Turbo power for the final two meetings of the year on the Brands Hatch GP circuit and on the weekend of October 16 at Silverstone.
Former BTCC racer and GSR team boss Martyn Bell is delighted to be back on the grid and he alluded to the possibility that Gilham might not be the only GSR car on the grid for the final two race meetings by saying, “The BTCC is very addictive and Geoff and I feel there is some unfinished business. It’s very important for us to be out there having invested in Motorbase’s 2010 BMWs for this season.
“Tony’s car at Rockingham will remain normally-aspirated but will then switch to the Next Generation Touring Car turbo engine for Brands Hatch and Silverstone – turbo-charging is the way forward and we’d actually very much like to run both cars with turbo engines at the last two rounds to showcase them for 2012,”added Bell.
Gilham is also delighted to be making such a quick return to the series and hope his past in rear wheel drive cars will help as he said, “I’m delighted I’m coming back. Once you’ve done the BTCC you don’t want to do anything else really. I’m just opening my own garage under the Tony Gilham brand in Kent and that has led to some great new sponsors who want to build their image as well, the BTCC is the right place to do that.
“I’m comfortable with rear-wheel-drive, plus the timing is right with my business plans away from the track. Sure, I’m going from one of the big teams to one of the smaller teams and we know it will be hard work, but we’re not in it just to make up the numbers," Gilham added.
Also if rumours are correct from Knockhill, we may well see yet another car on the grid in the hands of yet another Porsche racer Michael Caine. A long-term Motorbase Porsche driver joining the BTCC team in a third Airwaves Racing Focus. If this happens along with the return of Lea Wood and Tony Hughes after the pair missed Knockhill, we could see a massive grid of 28 cars for Rockingham. This could yet increase further with the arrival of Thorney Motorsport later in the year at Silverstone plus the extra car of GSR and we could see one of the biggest BTCC grids before the year is out of 30 cars.
So with the fallout from last weekend’s race at Knockhill still continuing and with the countdown now on for the next round at Rockingham on the 17th/18th September be sure to keep an eye out on Motorsport.com for all your BTCC news.
Quotes provided by BTCC.net